Services for Seniors and Privacy Law
The Halton Region Services for Seniors Division provides numerous programs for older adults. Three long-term care homes (Allendale, Creek Way Village, and Post Inn Village) provide living accommodations and care for older adults. Three adult day programs and four assisted living (supportive housing/supports for daily living) programs provide services that assist with mental and social stimulation as well as personal support with daily living activities.
Since these services provide health care they are subject to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, (PHIPA), which governs the collection, use and disclosure (sharing) of personal health information within the health care sector. Under PHIPA, you have privacy rights over the personal health information collected by Services for Seniors and Services for Seniors has privacy obligations to you. Below are details about why and how Services for Seniors collects and manages personal health information and how your rights over your information are supported.
Collection, Use and Disclosure of Your Personal Health Information
To provide you with health care services and programs, Services for Seniors limits its collection, use and disclosure of personal health information to:
- name, date of birth, address and telephone number;
- health card number (if it’s needed for OHIP billing or as permitted by law);
- health and health care history, including family history, if required; and
- record or history of doctor, hospital and specialist visits, including x-ray, laboratory and other medical results.
Typically, Services for Seniors collects personal health information directly from you or your substitute decision-maker. Other times, Services for Seniors collects personal health information from other health care providers or agencies that you have been dealing with such as family doctors or hospitals.
Should the need arise, we may collect additional personal health information about you through shared electronic medical information systems (sometimes called electronic health records, eHealth records, electronic medical records, etc.). If you would like more information about the electronic medical information systems we use, please speak with our Services for Seniors Privacy Officer.
Personal health information is typically used and disclosed for the purpose of providing adequate daily living programs, living accommodations and health care. At times, Services for Seniors will use and disclose your personal health information for other purposes such as evaluating our services and programs or assisting with research initiatives. PHIPA permits Services for Seniors to use and disclose your personal health information for these and other authorized purposes.
Your Consent Rights
Your consent, or that of your substitute decision-maker, is often requested before collecting, using and disclosing your personal health information.
In some cases, Services for Seniors will rely on your implied consent. While you are in receipt of our health care services or when we refer you to other health care providers for follow up services your implied consent gives Services for Seniors permission to collect, use and disclose your personal health information from or to relevant health care providers to streamline your care.
When Services for Seniors shares your personal health information with people who are not health care providers, such as family members or a community agency, we will obtain your express consent (verbal or written permission) to collect, use and disclose personal health information. When your express consent is required, Services for Seniors will provide you with information about why we need to use and disclose your personal health information and who the information will be shared with to help you make an informed decision.
Withdrawing Your Consent
You, or your substitute decision maker, have the right to withdraw consent for the further collection, use and disclosure of your personal health information for health care services. Consent cannot be withdrawn for the use or disclosure of personal health information that has already occurred. Since withdrawing consent may have an impact on the health care you receive we will discuss those impacts with you to help you make a knowledgeable decision.
Safeguarding and Managing Your Personal Health Information
Protecting your personal health information and respecting your individual privacy rights is of high importance to Services for Seniors. Services for Seniors has implemented information management practices and a comprehensive privacy and security program to ensure the privacy and security of personal health information, including:
- assigning roles and responsibilities for managing and reporting on the Services for Seniors privacy program and its compliance with PHIPA;
- maintaining a culture of privacy by holding mandatory and ongoing privacy training for staff;
- having policies and procedures to guide staff on obtaining an individual’s consent when required and appropriately handling personal health information;
- restricting access to personal health information to authorized staff on a need-to-know basis;
- ensuring privacy and security requirements are enforced in agreements with staff and third-party providers of electronic systems that manage and store personal health information for Services for Seniors;
- using security controls to safeguard personal health information and prevent security breaches such as firewalls on our computer network and encrypted mobile devices;
- logging and auditing staff access to personal health information in electronic systems; and
- implementing a privacy breach response protocol to ensure privacy breaches are contained, investigated and remediated as necessary and that affected individuals are notified.
Access to and Correction of Your Personal Health Information
Under PHIPA you have a right to request access to and a right to request a correction of your personal health information held by Services for Seniors, except in limited circumstances. You or your substitute decision-maker can make an informal request for access to the staff person you have been dealing with while receiving our services. Otherwise, you or your substitute decision-maker, can make a formal, written request for access. A form and instructions on making a formal request is available on halton.ca
You may also make an access or correction request by contacting the Services for Seniors Privacy Officer (CQI Risk Manager) or the Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator:
CQI Risk Manager
Services for Seniors
1151 Bronte Road
Oakville, ON L6M 3L1
Toll Free: 1-866-4Halton (1-866-442-5866)
Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator
Legal Services Division, Office of the Regional Clerk
1151 Bronte Road
Oakville, ON L6M 3L1
Toll Free: 1-866-4Halton (1-866-442-5866)
Under PHIPA you have a right to ask questions and file complaints about how Services for Seniors collects, uses, discloses and manages personal health information or how it supports your rights for consent, access and correction requests and complaints. To ask a privacy question or make a privacy complaint, please contact the Freedom of Information and Privacy Coordinator.
Information and Privacy Commissioner
You also have a right to formally complain about how the Services for Seniors collects, uses, discloses and manages personal health information or how it supports your rights for consent, access and correction requests and complaints. These complaints are managed by the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario (IPC), which is external to the Region and oversees compliance with PHIPA. The IPC can be reached at:
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400
Toronto, ON M4W 1A8
Toll Free: 1-800-387-0073
www.ipc.on.ca (external link)